In Strike.TV‘s comedy series, Hold Please, lead character, Mandy Stern (played by co-creator Royana Black) reveals Liz Lemon-esque social quirks, like passing off the sarcastic remarks she makes under her breath as getting “the whispers.” You know, it’s an acting thing.
And that’s exactly what Mandy wants, an acting thing. But big breaks are hard to come by in Hollywood and lingering on the fringes of the business does not pay the bills. So, Mindy needs a preferably low-maintenance, high-paying job with a flexible schedule to keep her on her feet while she tries to break a leg. She may have just found what she was looking for.
After the opening credit sequence (a throw back to the Pillow Talk era of jazzy upbeat jingles), Hold Please starts off with an interview for a receptionist gig. When Mandy brings up her acting career, HR lady Tess Manatu (played by Deb Heitt) rolls her eyes and fakes enthusiasm with “An actress? How lovely. Well we love the arts here.” Or maybe she’s not faking the enthusiasm. Is this job for a flighty actress too good to be true?
After glossing over the medical benefits that come with the position, Tess mentions the office has discounts at the local gym and cheerfully suggests her and Mandy become gym buddies. Mandy’s wide-eyed reaction of surprise and dread is well played by Black, because the last thing you expect on a job interview is an invitation to a Zumba class with your new boss.
It’s a little tough to get a gist of where Hold Please is heading. Is it going to be about the zany office life of a receptionist? Or attempting to find balance between the work one has to do and the career one wants? Or is Mandy being lured into another soul-sucking position except with better health insurance and a higher hourly wage?
Looking at the list of cast bios, which includes Mad TV alum Bryan Callen as Mandy’s date, Jeffery, it’s clear that we’re going to see more than just the workplace aspect of Mandy’s life. We get a glimpse of this in the second episode, ‘The Job.’ There’s a hilarious catty exchange between Mandy and her friend – or maybe frienemy judging by the way she steals a potential acting gig from under Mandy’s nose – named Whitney, played spot on by Bettina Adger who throws in just the right dash of bitchiness.
One of the better bits of the second episode is how we learn the way Mandy copes with the minor annoyances of her job. She posts a sticky on her monitor that reminds her to breathe and places a framed picture of Meryl Streep on her desk for motivation and support (Maybe I should frame a picture of Anderson Cooper and put it on my desk?).
If you’ve ever been in a mind numbing cubicle for 9 hours of day Mandy’s The Secret influenced idiosyncrasies will look familiar. And it’s that familiarity, coupled with a tight script, short episodes, and a casual kind of comedy that makes the series one to watch.
This is first foray into the web series world for co-creator, writer and producer Hal Cantor, who has a strong theater background. Black, on the other hand has 25 years of acting experience and seems to have drawn the concept of Hold Please from her own life, in which she currently feels “very grateful to have her current job in Investment Banking, as it provides not only a paycheck, but great material.”